Aurora

The aurora came to visit last night. Not as intense as I’d hoped but always a treat to see it. If nothing else, spending an hour on the beach on a calm, peaceful night was very relaxing, though not conducive to a productive day of work….

This photo so nearly didn’t happen. I knew there was a chance of seeing the Northern Lights last night, but when the time came to think about going somewhere to get photos, I was seriously considering just crawling into bed instead. But these chances don’t come around that often so off we went down to the beach again, to the same spot where we watched them back in May. The water was just as calm again, allowing for great reflections.

But ultimately I’m disappointed in the photos. The lights from the city were just too bright and show up so strongly in the photos, the brightest of them resulting in halos or showing up internal reflections in the lens. Plus I feel like I shot too wide – the aurora just looks like a little green line near the bottom of the frame. And I’m not convinced I’ve got my processing right either. However, I’ve since explored more processing options and found a way to make the photo more pleasing to my eye – that version is on Flickr as Instagram doesn’t support replacements (and I’m not going to simply repost a different version of the same image).

Aurora, 28 Sep 2017

So here’s to the next time we get chance to see the aurora in Vancouver, and perhaps I’ll be in a position to drive out of town to admire it!

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Floral assortment

An assortment of flowers near Mystery Lake for wildflower-Wednesday: bunchberry, paintbrush, and fireweed. I was surprised to find bunchberry still blooming, and this was the first time I’ve seen paintbrush on the North Shore. The fireweed photo is actually from Callaghan Valley (though there was plenty blooming next to the Mt Seymour parking lot), against a backdrop of thick smoke from the BC wildfires.

Guess who just found out how to post a slideshow on Instagram? Yay 🙂 I’ll try not to overuse it, but sometimes it’s nice to include a few photos in a single post to tell a wider story. The only downside is that it looks like the photos are forced to be square and I hadn’t prepared these photos with a square crop on mind, so I don’t feel they’re displayed to their best advantage.

Judging by the freshness of the bunchberry flowers, I’d say the North Shore (or at least that part of Mt Seymour) is about 3 weeks behind its usual bloom. We also saw quite a few fresh Queen’s cup, which was another lovely surprise. But the biggest surprise was the paintbrush: my eye was caught by the orangey-red colour on one of the ski runs, and then I found more along the edge of the open slopes just before we entered the forest. I’m pretty sure that I’ve never seen paintbrush on any of the North Shore mountains, though I have nagging memory of maybe seeing it once before somewhere else on Mt Seymour. I’ll need to scan our (ridiculously large) photo collection to be sure!

The fireweed photo is a bit of a cheat as it was taken the day before but I really wanted to show the smoky atmosphere in the background that couldn’t be seen in the fireweed photos I took in the parking lot. It was bad enough to put us off our original hiking plans…

Coltsfoot close up

I hadn’t appreciated just how cute the tiny florets of palmate coltsfoot could be, especially since it’s quite a straggly-looking plant that favours wet, swampy conditions

I was pleased to find this flower a few years back (and posted a photo last spring as well) on account of it being a favourite of a late friend of ours, but I had to admit I didn’t really see the attraction. It doesn’t grow in pretty areas – I’ve mostly found it in boggy ditches – the flower head looks kinda messy, like it’s unravelling, and the overall impression is of an unforgettable flower. So when I saw them growing this year along the Capilano Pacific trail, I stooped to take a few snapshots (more out of a sense of duty than anything else) but didn’t really pay close attention to what I was photographing.

It was only when I got home and looked through the handful of photos that I realized what I’d got: for once, I’d captured the coltsfoot flower at the moment it actually blooms. All I’d seen before was just the pre-bloom flower when the florets look like budding dandelions (or similar). The tiny pink-and-white florets are really quite pretty little star-like flowers. So maybe that’s why our friend liked them so much? Either way, it’s given me a whole new appreciation of this flower, and I’ll be on the lookout for its alpine relative when it blooms later in the year.

Upper Upper Falls

Upper Upper Cypress Falls for waterfall Wednesday. At least that’s what I call them as I thought I’d already found the upper falls before finding this almighty drenching cascade 🙂

I had no idea this cascade existed until stumbling upon it while out for a rainy-day hike a couple of weeks ago. Since it’s well above what I’d previously known as the upper falls on Cypress Creek, I could only think of calling these the upper, upper falls.

What can’t be seen in this image is the constant spray that soaked me and the camera. I expect a lot of my cameras, even though they’re not weather-proofed. (I’m waiting for the day that comes back to bite me.) After watching these falls for a while we retreated back to the main trail where I realized I could hardly see. The next photograph I took was of my glasses which were completely covered in spray! It was like I’d worn them in the shower, albeit a very chilly shower. The down side to artificial fabrics is that they are hopeless for cleaning water off lenses as they just spread it around. Thankfully, this time I was wearing a merino shirt and with a bit of patience, I was able to get my glasses (and the camera!) dry.

Splintered

Splintered. One of a number of red alders brought down by this winter’s snowfall.

As always, I posted this photo because I liked it, so imagine my surprise when it kinda took off and became my most popular photo so far, garnering over 30 more likes than my next-most popular photo.

We were setting out on a walk into Lynn Headwaters park, and soon came across a handful of fallen trees. I noticed the right-angle bend in the broken tree trunk and immediately walked over to size it up. The sharp splintered wood contrasting with the grey bark and the deep orange layer between them along with the geometry of the two parts of the tree. Just some minor editing to tidy up the framing and get a crop suitable for Instagram. Done.

Out with the old…

Out with the old… The penultimate sunset of 2016. May 2017 be a better one! Happy New Year!

And so 2016 draws to a close. For many it’ll be a year to forget or curse in some other fashion. For others it was no doubt a good year. Personally it was kinda “meh” – some good, some bad. But there’s always a new year to look forward to with anticipation. Hopefully it’ll be a better year than 2016 in whatever way is meaningful to you.

I was getting our gear ready for our New Year’s trip away when I noticed the band of pink light on Crown and Grouse. In all my years of taking sunset photos from our balcony, I haven’t witnessed one like this before. It’s always nice to find different reasons to photograph a familiar scene. Now on with the packing… See you next year!

Stature

Stature. I’ve taken so many photos of Crown Mountain over the past few years, yet very few have really captured just how imposing a mountain it is. This one comes close but I cropped in too close for it to fit into the stupid Instagram format. The full size version is on Flickr.

Given its impressive, jagged profile and the fact that we have a clear view from our balcony, Crown Mountain must be the most-photographed mountain in our photo collection. A quick check on Flickr shows that we have 79 photos tagged with “Crown Mountain”, which includes photos we took on Crown itself and those taken from neighbouring mountains. (Mts Garibaldi and Baker also feature highly in our photo stream.) Not bad. For the most part, the photos I’ve taken over the years have been what you could call “pretty mountain” photos – in other words, a scene that has intrinsic appeal but remains a bit abstract or detached from reality.

Now, I’ve come to realize that it’s hard to capture the scale of any mountain really, as you need something human-scale in the frame as well. People work well, but failing that buildings. And it helps to use a telephoto lens to compress the horizontal distance and make the comparison more immediate. These are aspects of photography that I already knew, and yet for some reason had never really put them into action, at least not until the other day down at Locarno Beach. It may have taken me a few years, but I’ve finally got a photo of Crown that does a passable job at capturing its stature.